Animal ethicists are calling for a new vocabulary about animals, shunning words such as “pets,” “wildlife,” and “vermin” as derogatory and even suggesting “animal” is a “term of abuse.”
Common language on fauna betrays an “anthropocentric bias” and impedes an understanding of our interaction with the non-human species sharing the planet, argue the editors of the first academic journal dedicated to animal ethics in their debut issue.
Instead of “pet,” the Journal of Animal Ethics suggests “companion animal.” Rather than “wildlife,” they are to be called “free-living.” “Differentiated beings” or “non-human animals” is preferred to simply “animals.”
Words such as “vermin,” “beasts” and “critters” are stricken completely, along with similes such as “sly as a fox,” “drunk as a skunk,” “eat like a pig,” “slippery as an eel,” “breeding like rabbits” and “stubborn as a mule.”
“We will not be able to think clearly unless we discipline ourselves to use more impartial nouns and adjectives in our exploration of animals and our moral relations with them,” the editors write.
The argument has led to a public outcry that political correctness has run amuck, but the journal’s co-editor insisted terminology has the power to change how people think and act.
“The fact that some have reacted so furiously suggests that our language is much more revealing of our attitudes than many suppose. We have started an important debate,” said Andrew Linzey in an interview. “We were trying to help people see the connection between what we think and say about animals and how they are treated....”
"...terminology has the power to change how people think and act." I entirely agree--which is why we must never, ever accept this kind of ridiculous garbage. Funny, it seems, but insidious is more accurate a term.